Rombo Balabac: Candaraman Island via Mansalangan Sandbar and Patawan Islet

It was a loooong four-and-a-half hour — but fortunately, very scenic — trip from Puerto Prinsesa City (PPC) to the sleepy mining town of Rio Tuba, the jumpoff point to our Balabac exploration.

The port in Rio Tuba is like a scene in Bongao, Tawi-tawi.

The port in Rio Tuba is like a scene in Bongao, Tawi-tawi.

Rio Tuba is not what I expected: boisterous, busy, urbanized — an expectation bolstered by the thought that since it is a mining town, commerce must’ve been teeming. On the contrary, I found a quiet, slow-paced, rustic village very similar to the other towns I have visited outside PPC, like Narra, Quezon and San Vicente, with one very noticeable exception: wide, dusty roads — to accommodate huge mining trucks, perhaps.

From the port of Rio Tuba, it was another three-or-so hours of sea travel just to reach Punta Sibaring, our campsite for Day One.

Little house on the pra--, er, on the beach. -- Photo by: Nelo Manzo

Little house on the pra–, er, on the beach.
— Photo by: Nelo Manzo

Needless to say, we were so beat from the arduous voyage the day before that many of us were contemplating on just staying at the magnificent Punta Sibaring. Now that I think about it, it isn’t a bad idea if we opted to stay another day there. Oh well…. hindsight, they say, is 20/20.

By dawn’s early light of Day Two, I can already smell the inviting aroma of dried flying fish frying in Kap Andong’s pan. Handing me a cup of 3-in-1 coffee (spiked with my favorite poison… Sssshhhhh!) — I would’ve opted for freshly brewed Buscalan coffee if I had it my way — our Captain, dear Captain gave me a rundown of the other islands we NEEDed to explore — again, NEEDed.  Kap Andong’s enthusiasm was indeed contagious!

So, after breakfast…. off we went.

Mansalangan Sandbar

Mansalangan sandbar is part of a 12km or so stretch of beautiful land mass that glimmers from a distance.

The tide was still high when we got there, so much of the sandbar was still underwater; but, this didn’t stop us from having the time of our life!

Bilog ang mundo!

Photo by: Nelo Manzo

Sun-kissed and drenched, we boarded our boat to our next stop…

Patawan Island

Our next stop on our way to Day Two campsite is Patawan Island… more like an islet. What is unique about this piece of real estate is that from afar, it looks cottony white; but up close, the sand was pink-ish, very similar to what you’ll find in Tikling Island off the coast of Matnog, Sorsogon.

… and the water’s crystal clear!

After a quick lunch and some snorkeling, we  were on our way to the next pit stop…

Candaraman Island

Candaraman is a privately owned island and has its own airstrip. We were told that someday soon, small planes will again be taking off and landing from here.

Candaraman Island Sandbar (Starfish Alley)

The island comprising Balabac is full of sandbars. Here, just off the main island of Candaraman, we were fortunate to share the waters with a couple of marine turtles!

Most of the sandbars in Balabac are yet to be named, so I volunteered to christen this mesmerizing seascape: Starfish Alley… for a very obvious reason: the seabed is littered with starfish in all sizes and colors! I hope Kap Andong catches on to the name….

Next: Onok and Comiaran Islands >>>

About Seeing with Brahmin eyes
My sense of humor can be keen, sarcastic, silly or corny -- sometimes all at once. I enjoy meeting new people with no preconceived ideas about what or what is not possible. You get much more out of life by being open minded and willing. I'm an easy going, good-natured person who loves life and loves people. I'm both optimistic and realistic and pretty objective when it comes to assessing situations, events, etc. In general I am a very positive person and you'll usually find we with a smile on my face.

One Response to Rombo Balabac: Candaraman Island via Mansalangan Sandbar and Patawan Islet

  1. Ali A says:


    Did you book a tour for the Balabac Islands? I just moved to Coron and explored up to Linapacan but I have been stoked to explore Balabac since I saw photos of Onuk Island from another blog.

    I would appreciate it a lot if you can tell me details of your trip.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: